Lately, I have heard alot of folks asking whether there are any adverse effects of social networking. Well, it is nice that we get to connect with long lost friends and get to read celeb's tweets first hand but on the flip side it can also go way out of control. What starts as simple networking becomes a dangerous addiction where you forget everything else and this becomes your life. You start living a virtual life and it becomes increasingly difficult to connect to the real world because you are so busy leading your online avatar.
I know it sounds a little dramatic (it did to me too) but most of us wouldn't even recognize the signs till someone tells us. A few signs that you are an addict:
- Do you check your tweets, updates, mails the first thing after waking up? (I check my updates the first thing I wake up with the quilt over my head so that the light from the phone doesn't wake Joy)
- Do you get anxiety pangs and feel lonely when you do not receive any comments, messages or mails? (a friend today mentioned that the height of loneliness is to wake up and find that there are no messages in ur inbox, phone and wall)
- Do you feel the need to announce everything and anything that is happening in your life? (updating what you are having for dinner, or updating your current location such as which restaurant, mall or outlet you are currently visiting for a meal, shopping etc etc)
- Do you forget the time and tasks at hand because you are so busy texting that you are not aware that the time has flown by? (you log in thinking you will take a quick peek before heading out to buy groceries or some other stuff and a few hours later you realize you are still online and lost track of time and it's too late now as stores would have closed for the day or you've been so busy networking that dinner is burnt)
- Are you out for a movie or dinner with friends and spend most of the time checking your updates or texting? (gone for several movies where I landed up texting instead of watching the movie...but then will blame it solely on the movie. :P The movie has to be good enough to divert me from the interesting updates happening on my home page courtesy my friends. Another incident I can think of is where we are out for dinner with friends and we spend alot of time texting each other on our phones)
- Do you refresh your Twitter or FB page atleast 100 times a day and get anxiety pangs when you are in a situation where it's been over an hour due to network connectivity or some other unavoidable circumstances and you are unable to check your updates and messages and that's driving you crazy? (I read somewhere that this is similar to alcohol or drug addiction where you get severe pangs being away from social network sites for too long)
- Do you feel the need to check your updates the last thing before u fall asleep and several times thereafter (there have been days when I've headed off to sleep at 1130 pm and at 1:30 - 2 am when Joy enters the room am still texting)
- Do you feel attracted towards someone who pulls at your emotional quotient with words? You may have never met that person or sometimes barely met that person but you immediately feel a connect coz of the situation you are currently in and that person described exactly how you were feeling at that point of time or something about the words took you back to the past and expressed a deeper, nostalgic yearning for something lost or long gone. Well, most social networking addicts suffer from logophilia where you feel such an emotional connect with words that at times you may get addicted to the writer. We may like what the other person has to say but what we need to understand is that person is writing for an audience similar to real life where we all like to put our best foot forward. Not to take away anything from the writer. They may be genuine and at other times, it may be a "copy-paste" but we have to be aware that it is a virtual world after all and what someone writes online may not necessarily depict who they are in real life. We all try to emulate certain ideals that we have in our head but reality can be a little different.
Well, now that I think of it, I don't want to disappoint singletons or those looking out for love through social networking sites either so who knows it may work and you may meet the match of your dreams through social networking too though personally don't know of any social networking romances yet. However, who knows with the popularity of these sites, this may be the latest avenue to matrimony and finding a partner online. :D
Yup, the list is endless and am sure there are loads more from your own experience. Someone was even mentioning that social networking is spawning an entire generation of narcissists and attention seeking individuals, for example, the frequent DP changes. So what do we do? If you have determination and a strong will power here's what you can try doing:
- Try and give priority to your real life rather than your virtual avatar.
- Limit your networking time for a few hours everyday; maybe allot a specific time which is convenient.
- Enroll yourself in some other social activities that interest you, try and read a book, watch a movie or go for a walk.
- Get rid of your smartphone. Tough in today's fast-paced world but just a suggestion for those who can. :)
If all this doesn't work, GET HELP! :) Are there any Social Network De-addiction centres around? I think I may open one if no one does having been there, done that, researched so much about it, and hopefully recovered from my addiction. Well, I can at least share my experiences and maybe help others recover too. Just saying, have no such plans as of now. ;)
As my ex-classmate from school mentioned: "No more social networking sites please. I'd rather meet people, see their beautiful smiles, dine with them and chat with them."
Maybe, a few of us are forgetting the simple pleasures of life and it's time to get out of this virtual world to our real lives. :)